During the second half of 1950, the Korean War had turned in favor of the United Nations forces. By early October, North Korean forces had been pushed back across the 38th Parallel and were in a disorganized retreat. While China had warned the UN that they would enter the conflict if the UN forces entered North Korea, this was regarded as an attempt to blackmail the UN, and disregarded.
While the initial Chinese offensive on Oct 25 and Nov 1 pushed UN forces back Ch'ongch'on river, because the Chinese forces disappeared after the retreat, military commanders did not believe that China had yet entered the war. As a response to this offensive, General Douglas MacArthur launched the Home by Christmas Offensive on Nov 24, 1950, hoping to quickly defeat the remaining North Korean forces and force a quick end to the conflict.
The Chinese PVA, however, launched their Second Phase Offensive one day later, on Nov 25 with massive frontal assaults against the UN forces. Although the American and ROK forces had superior manpower, a shortage of ammunition, weapons, and winter clothing (when temperatures dropped to -30 degrees F) would prove disastrous.
On late Nov 25, the PVA attacked the ROK II Corps, on the far right flank of the line. The ROK II Corps lacked the firepower of other US units, and was defending incredibly difficult terrain, and by Nov 27, the entire right flank had crumbled, with Chinese forces headed around and behind the UN forces. The Chinese forces immediately set about creating roadblocks and ambushes along the path of retreat, which the UN forces fought through from Nov 28 through Dec 1.
By Dec 3, the UN forces had retreated back into South Korea, and the US 8th Army was crippled.
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